I woke up on the final day of ICON to a huge mess of styrofoam food containers, dirty clothes and empty bottles. The obvious signs of a fun night. Once again, I made it to the Art Museum just in time for the continental breakfast. Much like the other days of the conference, breakfast was a good time to grab a coffee, make new friends and trade contact information.

Saturday’s presentations began with Chronicle Books. Christina Amini (Editorial Director, Chronicle Books) and Kristen Hewitt (Design Director, Chronicle Books), joined illustrators, Lisa Congdon, and Susie Chahremani for an informative talk about Chronicle’s relationship between artists and editors, the collaborative creative process and working on projects that you enjoy.

The Phone Call

On the first short coffee break of the day I received a panicked phone call from my brother (who came along for the ride but was not attending ICON). I was informed that due to a miscommunication/booking error we needed to check out of our hotel immediately and that most of the hotels in the downtown Portland area were booked up due to the combination of ICON and some other conference that was going on. At this point I headed back to the hotel so we could figure out accommodations for the remainder of our trip. We called around to a bunch of hotels with no luck. Somehow during the call to the last of the hotels on our list, Ryan convinced the manager into giving us the presidential suite for the price of a regular room, as well as checking us in immediately. The room was pretty awesome…it had a living room with two couches, an office, a bedroom and a jacuzzi. I wanted to hang out and enjoy the room but also didn’t want to miss any more of the speakers.

10609461_702428776477033_2120387383461389839_nI made it back just in time to catch the last presentation before the break. I spent my lunch talking to some of the familiar faces and new friends that I had met over the past week, then headed back to the third floor of the Portland Art Museum. The rest of the day was full of really great speakers and topics. Brian McMullen talked about weird books for weird kids, Lisa Wagner and Jason Holley (who were in charge of the amazing and ever evolving stage design) spoke about working together, and Souther Salazar showed the crowd how work is play. After that, Justin Hall educated the attendees on the history of queer comics. His talk was quite interesting, as I am not very familiar with this sub-genre of independent comics. Equally interesting was Robynne Raye’s story about suing Disney for copyright infringement. Don’t Bring a Mouse to a Dogfight and don’t steal people’s shit!

The day concluded with a keynote by Damian Kulash of the band Ok Go, who spoke about making music videos, being creative by accident and playing around. What really impressed me was that it seemed like the band had a lot of fun making the videos. That’s always something that’s really important to me…I want to be having fun and making something that I’m proud of, whether it’s illustration, graphic design or making/playing music with my bands. After that, Mark Heflin (ICON Executive Director) and Ellen Weinstein came up on stage to close out the conference. They brought up a bunch of the behind the scenes folks that made this amazing event happen and it was all over.

It wasn’t over. We still had the closing night party! The theme of this conference wasn’t “Work and Play” for no reason. The attendees made their way back to their hotels and then to the Crystal Ballroom. We were treated to an open bar, a buffet full of food and a DJ while we mingled around. Later on in the night the headlining act, Portugal The Man played a special set just for us ICON attendees (and I’m sure a few people who managed to sneak in). It was a great way to end this amazing week.

ICON 8 was an awesome conference and as attendees we were treated very well. I still don’t know how I was able to cram so much action into one week. Workshops, presentations, lectures, double-decker busses, happy hours, art shows, food, drinks, music and more! Needless to say, the trip to the airport was a bittersweet one. I was worn out after that week of work and play but I’ll miss Portland, OR and all of the new friends that I made while I was there. I’ll see you guys at ICON 9!